Welcome back guys. We are officially 2 month into this marathoning of Ian Fleming’s James Bond works. 8 weeks. My God, where has the time gone? I started this with Spectre more than a month away. With this entry? Spectre has been out for 2 weeks and the fate of Daniel Craigs tenure as Bond is up in the air. That’s not the only change in the air. The prior 7 weeks have seen me delve into full length novels from Fleming, mostly being good reads with the occasional descent into racist madness. But this week signifies a change in this column. For this week and the two weeks following, we will be delving into three short stories that Fleming wrote between novels. Now, he wrote 5 of them and released them in a collection titled For Your Eyes Only. But we are only gonna do three of those now as they were used as titles in the movies world. And as we are gonna see in this article itself, sometime’s it really is just in name only. Another collection of shorts was released later in the chronology of Flemings work, released posthumously. There’s 4 shorts in there, with 2 of them being pillaged for the movies. So when I’m done with those shorts, I will do a massive final post here. It’s gonna delve into the shorts that didn’t have their titles used and go into each of them, talking about anything that was used in the movies maybe and what stories could have been used/what Bond could have been fitting for the story. But for now, we have From A View To A Kill. Let’s do it.
To see the write up on Casino Royale, click here.
To see the write up on Live and Let Die, click here.
To see the write up on Moonraker, click here.
To see the write up on Diamonds Are Forever, click here.
To see the write up on From Russia With Love, click here.
To see the write up on Dr. No, click here.
To see the write up on Goldfinger, click here.
From A View To A Kill vs A View To A Kill
When Fleming was finished writing Goldfinger, he was tasked with writing episodes of a potential James Bond series for CBS. He had previously adapted Casino Royale as a one hour one off for the CBS anthology show Climax. The success of that led to CBS looking to make a show in 1958. Fleming had started to outline episodes of the show when CBS decided to back out. The show was dead. So Fleming took 4 of those outlines and turned them into short stories, a first for him with the Bond character. Adding a 5th short he had written the summer before, a collection was released in the spring of 1960. So while James Bond hadn’t taken a break, this was the first year long break for novel work from Fleming. Of the 5 shorts in this collection, 3 of them would be used in some way in the cinematic world. The first of these would be the short From A View To A Kill. And this is the first one in this series of mine that I have come into contact with a story that’s only element that was used was the name. Moonraker was significantly changed but still featured some elements in it that at least felt like the creators had read the book. But by the time 1985 was rolling around and Roger Moore was on his way to an AARP card, they couldn’t give less of a fuck. The series was in such a downward spiral that they were too lazy to even make up a name, let alone a story that made any sort of sense. That movie was A View To A Kill. The two are so different on a basic fundamental level that this may very well end up being the shortest entry in this series.
This being the first short I’ve read from Fleming, I’m gonna say that maybe the format may not be the format for him. Not that this is a bad short. Far from it. It’s interesting and features some strong writing from his part. But it’s too rushed, feeling very much like a regular Bond story that condenses 250 pages into 31. That rushed aspect makes the story feel a little unfulfilling. It’s wrapped up way too quickly and a little neatly. But it starts out pretty cool and I wish the story was actually a novel, building up to a fight with a villain instead of an easily bested group of 3 guys in a hole. Cause that’s basically what it ends up being. We have no idea who they are and what they’re goal is. Just that they are bad and Bond has to stop them. The story at hand begins with a French NATO agent who is transporting Intelligence by motorcycle getting gunned down by a man also on a motorcycle. This assassin steals the intel and makes off. Bond, who is relaxing in France at the time after a botched mission, is sent by M to investigate the murder. Bond gets the mission from hot Section F(rance) agent Mary Ann Russell, who Bond immediately wants to bang and she pretty much is set to go immediately as well. From there Bond deals with the American NATO officer in charge of the case and goes to the site of the murder. He hears about a group of gipsies going missing near that area and checks it out, stealth like sneaking up a tree and casing the area. He finds that the assailants are hiding in an underground base of sorts, waiting for any new Intel delivery passing by. Bond then disguises himself as an Intel delivery agent, waiting for an attack. When it happens, Bond kills the guy and makes his way back to the base when he is saved by agents from Section F and Mary Ann, who Bond proceeds to immediately bang.
For anyone with at least a cursory knowledge of the movie, you know that this is nothing like the movie. At all. Literally nothing in the short makes its way into the movie other than the title (which even they butchered) and the locale of France. You can’t even claim they read the story based on the France locale because the Bond movies sometimes feel like they puts locales on a wall and throw darts at them. And the same locales aren’t even used. Just the country itself. The title too is weirdly used. The title makes sense for the short, as Bond finds the guys from a tree perch. A view to a kill, if you will. The movie justifies the line with a throw away line that bad guy Max Zorin says in reference to a view he has from a blimp. It’s so half assed that it feels like they needed to say the title in the movie to justify themselves for some reason. Getting into the plot of the movie is a fools errand and having any sort of detail with it like I have in the past entries is pointless. There is no need to do so because there’s no comparing or contrasting to be had. Doesn’t help that the movie is convoluted and nonsensical as shit. But basically, bad guy Max Zorin is a genetically engineered Nazi experiment. He’s super smart but super crazy so he enacts a plan to cause an earthquake that would flood Silicon Valley, allowing him a monopoly on microchips. That’s the shortest version of it, but rest assured there is so much more in it that it’s crazy.
It’s safe to say that this is the shortest one I’ve written by far, especially coming off of two massive tomes in a row. Any sort of detailed writing about the two isn’t really necessary. Comparisons are unimportant. The only thing that could be contrasted is the scale of the two. After going very large with Goldfinger, Fleming scaled down considerably. Almost too much, breezing by too fast. Whereas the movie followed the typical Bond trend of trying to be bigger than the last, feeling the complete opposite of the short story. Whereas the short story was economical, the movie is overlong and bloated. It’s honestly the most overlong, bloated mess of a movie in the entire series. It’s kinda funny that the messiest one was even linked in part to a short story. The only thing that could be seen as a positive in regards to the movie was that Fleming wasn’t alive to see such a massive piece of garbage be tied to anything he wrote. Literally the worst of anything made with one of his titles. Obviously the winner this week is the short. Next week we will get into the next short story in this collection. It gets us into another Roger Moore movie, but one of the two I actually like. So there’s that. It’s For Your Eyes Only. Will be interesting to see what, if anything, matches up. See ya then.
Verdict: Short Story
Book Rankings: From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Goldfinger, Moonraker, Casino Royale, From A View To A Kill, Dr. No, Live and Let Die.
Movie Rankings: Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Dr. No, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die,Moonraker, A View To A Kill
Up Next: The Short Story, For Your Eyes Only